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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Today's flying pig moment: BBC admits inaccuracies in coverage

BBC admits inaccuracies in coverage
The BBC has apologized for significant errors in two recent news reports on Israel.
The first one had to do with the Beeb showing up at the wrong house
In a news item on March 7, following the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva attack, the BBC showed a bulldozer demolishing a house, while correspondent Nick Miles told viewers: "Hours after the attack, Israeli bulldozers destroyed his family home. Later, mourners set up Hamas and Islamic Jihad banners nearby."

The house, however, was not demolished; the BBC was embarrassed when news reports from other broadcasters showed the east Jerusalem home intact and the family commemorating their son's actions.
...
The fabrication was exposed by Boston-based media monitor CAMERA, which revealed that the images used by the BBC were similar to photos taken by the Palestinian news agency Maan from the demolition of the house belonging to Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Shehadeh in Bethlehem on March 7.
Sorry, wrong address.

Then there was the made-up-of-whole-fabric item:
In a second incident, in a news item entitled "Israel jets strike northern Gaza" on March 14 on their News Web site, the BBC reported that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians in an operation targeting Kassam rocket launch sites in Gaza, and claiming that the United Nations secretary-general had described it as an attack on civilians.

"The Israeli air force said it was targeting a rocket firing team... UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned Israel's attacks on Palestinian civilians, calling them inappropriate and disproportionate," the report said.
The second item was erroneous because
a. it didn't describe as "attacks on civilians" the Palestinian rocket attacks
b. Ban Ki-moon's statement was made two weeks before that particular attack
c. Ban Ki-moon's statement didn't describe Israel's operations on Gaza as 'attacks on civilians,
d. Ban Ki-moon's statement did describe Palestinian rocket attacks as 'acts of terrorism.'

Why does the apology qualify as a flying pig moment? Because The BBC has spent thousands of pounds of licence payers' money trying to block the release of a report which is believed to be highly critical of its Middle East coverage. (h/t Israel Matzav)

One question for the Beeb: Why this pattern of fabrication?

In Friday's podcast we talked about Second Draft, Yaacov Ben Moshe and Richard Landes's new project
This website is devoted to exploring some of the problems and issues that plague modern journalism. In this age of globalization, the media has unprecedented influence on the way we see the world. And yet, whether out of misplaced good intentions, unconscious agendas and predispositions, or unwarranted faith in false information, they can get the story dramatically wrong. Therefore, we want to revisit and critique journalism's "first draft of history", and hopefully produce a more accurate second one.
Now, more than ever, we need to hold journalists accountable: as you can read in the Jerusalem Post article, it was a member of the Manchester Jewish community who detected the lie.
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